Welcome to Something Old, Something New, a brand new regular feature for MMA Plus where we will introduce you to those making their UFC debuts and remind you of those who have found themselves returning from a prolonged period on the sidelines.
This week we are in Mexico City, Mexico for UFC Fight Night 98 (TUF Latin America Finale) with an important Lightweight main event pitting former champion Rafael Dos Anjos against the exciting Tony Ferguson.
Firstly for “Something New,” here’s the rundown of those making their UFC debuts in Mexico City:-
Alexa Grasso (8-0) – Women’s Strawweight
The 23-year-old Strawweight from Guadalajara, Mexico this week makes her UFC debut against Heather Jo Clark at UFC Fight Night 98 amidst a wave of hype that has followed her since her pro debut in 2012. She trains locally at Lobo Gym where she is coached by both her uncle and her father.
Still undefeated, Grasso has caught the UFC’s eye by winning all four of her bouts under the Invicta banner including two post fight bonuses against tough opposition in Mizuki Inoue and Jodie Esquibel.
Considered one of the hottest young prospects in the 115lb division, Grasso has the striking talent to mix it up with the best at her weight class and has all the potential to be not just a serious contender, but also a future star.
Marcin “The Polish Prodigy” Held (22-4) – Lightweight
After being held in high regard in his home country of Poland, Marcin Held finally makes his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 98 against Diego Sanchez.
Best known for his success in BJJ and grappling tournaments around the world, Held, who hails from Tychy, Poland, became the youngest BJJ black belt in his home country at the age of 21.
The 24-year-old has already graced Shooto and Bellator MMA in his short career and it’s worth noting the four losses on his record are to top-level Lightweights including former Bellator MMA champions Michael Chandler and Will Brooks.
Paired with “The Nightmare” in Mexico City, Held has certainly not been handed an easy first assignment but a win over the fading Sanchez would instantly add credibility to the claims that “The Polish Prodigy” can be a force in the UFC.
In the fast paced world of UFC, where we now have live shows most weekends, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing roster. That’s made even harder when fighters disappear due to injury, suspension and a multitude of other reasons for long periods of time. Now let’s reacquaint ourselves with the fighters from this week’s card who are returning to the Octagon after 12 months or more with “Something Old”:-
Rashid “Highlander” Magomedov (19-1) – Lightweight
Rashid “Highlander” Magomedov returns to action at UFC Fight Night 98 after an injury to his left knee forced him to pull out of his scheduled fight at UFC Rotterdam in May 2016 against Chris Wade.
The Dagestan fighter defeated Gilbert Burns by way of unanimous decision in his last bout at UFC Fight Night 77 in November 2015 and currently has put together a 12 fight win streak including his 4-0 UFC record since joining the organisation in 2014. Despite the time on the sidelines, Magomedov still occupies the #15 spot on the UFC Lightweight rankings.
With his injury worries now behind him, the former M-1 Global Welterweight champion can continue to climb the UFC rankings and look to secure a top-10 place in the Lightweight division by defeating Beneil Dariush this weekend.
Douglas “D’Silva” Andrade (23-1-0 1NC) – Bantamweight
Despite his very impressive record and reputation as a vicious striker; with 18 of his 23 wins coming by knockout, Douglas Andrade still has a lot to prove after going 1-1 so far in his UFC career. The Jungle Fight veteran tasted defeat for the first time in his UFC debut against Zubaira Tukhugov when he lost by a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 36 in February 2014.
Taking a year off after that defeat and dropping down to the Bantamweight division, the Brazilian returned in February 2015 to upset Cody Gibson at UFC Fight Night 61 by unanimous decision.
Nearly two years later, Andrade returns to action at UFC Fight Night 98 with very little fanfare against Mexican fighter Enrique Briones who will have his country firmly behind him. “D’Silva” must put in a performance similar to those that brought him to the UFC and fighting regularly is something he must do before he will ever be considered a contender in the stacked 135lb division.
Enrique “Henry Bure” Briones (16-5-1) – Bantamweight
After a run of eight straight victories including a fight bonus in his UFC debut win over Guido Cannetti at UFC 180, Briones fell short in his last fight at UFC 189 in July 2015 when he lost by unanimous decision to Cody Garbrandt.
A scheduled fight for London in February of this year, against Brad Pickett, was scrapped when the Mexican fighter was injured during training camp. It was this injury that has continued to keep the Tijuana-born fighter and former TUF: Latin America cast member out until this weekend when he will face Brazilian Douglas Andrade.
In Brione’s absence, his last fight has been all but forgotten with Garbrant’s ascension through the ranks. It is however worth noting that Briones is the only fighter to take “No Love” the distance and if he can start to string together something in terms of a win streak, that loss will look like a blip rather than a disaster.
Did we miss anyone of the list? Leave a comment below about who you are most looking forward to seeing this weekend UFC Fight Night 98.